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Love Never Quits by Gina Heumann - Book Tour & Review

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by Gina Heumann

* Memoir *


Author: Gina Heumann

Publisher: MadLand Press

Pages: 246

Genre: Memoir

WHACK… At three in the morning Gina was sound asleep, yet somehow she
was smacked in the head. She looked over at her husband, thinking
perhaps he accidentally rolled over and flopped his arm on top of her,
but he was sleeping soundly and facing the opposite direction. She
turned to the other side and glaring back at her was her eight-year-old

“Did you just hit me?”

“Yes, and I’d do it again.”


“Because you took away my video games.”

“That was EIGHT HOURS AGO. And you’re still mad about it?”

“I wish I could kill you.”

This is the true story of the hell one family lived through parenting
a child with reactive attachment disorder, a severe diagnosis related
to children who experienced early-childhood trauma.

This inspirational story covers over a decade of daily struggles
until they finally found resolution and made it to the other side. The
family remained intact, and this once challenging son is now achieving
things never thought possible.


So let’s talk about this diagnosis

that we now suspect: Reactive Attachment Disorder. RAD is a fairly
controversial diagnosis as far as psychological afflictions are concerned, but
one that is extremely serious. Although this is not a diagnosis that is solely
reserved for adoptees, it is by far more prevalent in children who had some
sort of disrupted attachment. The Institute
of Attachment and Child Development defines Reactive Attachment Disorder
as “a disorder in which children’s brains and development get disrupted by
trauma they endured before the age of 3. They are unable to trust others and
attach in relationships.” Since adoption is a result of a disrupted attachment,
it is most common in children who are adoptees, foster kids, and step children,
but it can also occur in biological children who’s primary caregiver was
hospitalized, in prison, deployed, or had some other traumatic event that
separated them, even for a short time. Not all adopted children have RAD. And
not all children who suffer from RAD are adopted.

Symptoms of RAD include: severe

anger, lack of empathy, inability to give or receive affection, lack of cause
and effect thinking, minimal eye contact, lying, stealing, “mad peeing”
(urinating all over the house when angry or bedwetting into the teen years),
indiscriminate affection with strangers, inappropriately demanding,
preoccupation with fire, blood, and gore, hoarding food, abnormal eating
patterns, learning lags, and lack of impulse control. These can be more serious
in some patients than others, of course, but over the years, Maddox suffered
from most of these. In extreme cases, symptoms can include verbal, physical,
psychological and emotional abuse of the mother (yes), self-harm or threats to
others (yes), and hurting or killing pets (thank god, no). As hard as things
were for us, I read this list and know it could have been a lot worse.

RAD was in the news recently as

one of the descriptors of Nikolas Cruz, the school shooter at Stoneman Douglas
high school in Parkland, Florida. Internet support groups for parents dealing with Reactive
Attachment Disorder were a buzz with comments like “that could be my kid
someday.” Honestly there was a time I thought the same thing. And of course,
the comments about the school shooter were focused on the parents: “why didn’t
they spend more time with him?,” “they should have given him more hugs/love,”
“why wasn’t he in therapy?,” “he needed more discipline,” “a good spanking
would have whipped him into shape”… judgments, judgments, judgments. I was so
accustomed to judgments from other parents, strangers, and even my own family.
Relatives gave us books on “Love and Logic,” gave Maddox timeouts that only
made him angrier, and yelled at me for my lack of mothering skills. No sticker
chart was going to resolve this issue.

In the heat of a rage, a child

with Reactive Attachment Disorder seems to be afraid of nothing. Maddox didn’t
respond to typical parental requests, bribes, or threats. If we would yell, he
would yell back, louder and meaner. “Go to your room” was never met with compliance,
and running away from home was an ongoing issue.

But underneath it all is a

powerful sense of fear. Fear of never being loved or accepted. Fear of not
making friends. Fear of not fitting in with normal society. As a mother, I
feared he might grow up to be the next school shooter.

Starting even before he was born,

his birth mother, desperately poor and managing a special-needs child at the
age of 17, was sending stress hormones to his brain in the womb, setting him up
for a lifetime of anxiety.

After his birth, he went directly

to a foster home, where he was neglected. Mistrust of adults and caregivers was
ingrained in his brain, and anger was his primary emotion.

It is hard to believe that the

first six months of life can have such a profound impact on a child and make it
so difficult to lead a normal life without serious intervention and extreme
love and care.

Being a RAD parent is one of the

hardest and loneliest jobs on earth, and that’s true without even counting all
the judgment.


My Review
Love Never Quits is an inspiring, powerful novel about what it means to persevere as a family, no matter the cost. It's an intense, stressful journey to discover the truth behind Maddox's struggles. 
I found this book to be really eye-opening. RAD is something I've never heard of, but it's definitely something more people need to know about. And it's something more doctors should be educated about so they can learn to help other families who may be struggling to understand what is "wrong" with their child. 
I'm so glad I took a chance on this book. It's an emotional read that had me shedding tears, smiling from ear-to-ear, and even worrying about what might happen if the author and her family didn't get the help they desperately were seeking. 
This book made me realize that our mental health care system in the US isn't exactly the best it could be. Or should be, really. It was honestly a bit disheartening to read about the many therapists this family went to seeking help, only to be set back even more. Knowing they had to spend money out of pocket because insurance (regardless of how good it is) wouldn't pay for the help they sought bothered me. Knowing we live in a country where people with mental health issues can't get help and tend to fall through the cracks is disappointing. Thankfully, this story has a happier ending, but it definitely was a surprise to read about the difficulties this family had, and all the hoops they had to jump through just to get a proper diagnosis and help.  
If you're a fan of memoirs, stories about overcoming hurdles, or non-fiction in general, pick up a copy of Love Never Quits today. 
4 stars.

Gina Heumann is a true Renaissance woman: wife, mother, architect,
designer, instructor, author, speaker, and sales rep for an
award-winning Napa Valley winery. She and her husband, Aaron, adopted
Landrey in 2001 from Guatemala and then went back for Maddox three years
later. Gina’s love of learning and dedication as a mother inspired her
research of different treatments and therapies that eventually led to
this inspirational success story about conquering Reactive Attachment

Her latest book is Love Never Quits: Surviving & Thriving After Infertility, Adoption, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.


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